1 Corinthians 15:35-41

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 29, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
- 1 Corinthians 15:35-41

In the previous section, Paul established that there is hope for a world beyond this one. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we too have the opportunity of life after we die a physical death in this world. Here, Paul begins to discuss how our resurrected bodies will be different and a bit about how we get to that point.

The questions that were posed by the first-century Corinthians in verse 35 are ones that we still have today. First, they asked how the dead are raised, and then they asked what kind of body people will have after they are raised from the dead. Paul has made a convincing argument that resurrection will happen, based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and therefore the dead will be raised. But that naturally raises other questions in our minds about the details of how that will occur.

But then in verse 36, Paul calls those questions foolish! He then begins to use a seed analogy to explain how this will all work. The first step for a plant to come to life is that it must die. That plant doesn’t just magically happen; first, something has to die in order for it to exist.

Paul’s explanation in verse 37 may seem obvious, but he needs to state that fact for his point to make sense. If you’re trying to grow a certain plant, you don’t put that plant in the ground for it to create more of itself. No; you put a seed for that plant in the ground. Now, of course, seeds do generally come out of the mature plant, but it won’t work very well to just stick that entire mature plant in the ground. You must first get the seed, which is “dead” in the ground. But then it begins to grow roots and sprout, thus producing new life.

Paul applies the analogy to the resurrection in verse 38, comparing how God has determined what type of plant will come from a seed to how He has determined what kind of bodies we will have after we are resurrected. The new plant looks different from the seed, yet it came from it. It has a new and different “body” to it, but that “new body” is still related to the seed.

Paul introduces another analogy in verse 39: that of people and different types of animals. While people, animals, birds, and fish are all alive, we have different kinds of bodies and different kinds of flesh. While all of these living creatures are made up of similar substances, God is able to make them into different creatures depending on what He wants to do.

Paul brings up one more analogy in verses 40-41: that of heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. These are the nonliving things that God created (see Genesis 1). Paul doesn’t tell us what he means by “earthly bodies,” but we can surmise that he means things like mountains, canyons, forests, etc. – the natural beauties that leave us in awe here on Earth. The heavenly bodies are the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets. These are all different from one another, yet they are also much the same, all being made of the same general substances. They have different levels of splendor or brilliance to them. The earthly bodies are different from the heavenly bodies, and the heavenly bodies are different from each other.

It is amazing that today’s science has essentially confirmed what Paul stated. We know that everything in all creation is made up of a finite number of elements. Those elements combine in different ways to make up everything that exists in creation. Everything living is made up of its own unique DNA – just 4 chemical building blocks that combine in a myriad of ways but with slight differences between different creatures.

Paul is telling us that God can take similar physical material and organize it differently to accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish with it. But what does that have to do with the resurrection?

While that’s the end of the passage we’re looking at today, we need to take a sneak peek at the first part of the next verse: “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.” This implies that God will be able to take our human bodies and organize the material differently to accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish with it. God is the almighty God, creator of the universe, so He can make our resurrected bodies to be whatever He wants them to be.

As mere humans, we cannot know the mind of God except whatever He reveals to us. He has revealed to us in His creation that He can create anything and everything. If He can make a seed turn into a plant using the natural processes that He has created, then surely He can resurrect us humans through His supernatural processes! He will give us whatever bodies that He sees fit.

God created us with a sense of wonder and curiosity, but that doesn’t mean we can discover everything, especially about what our resurrected bodies will look like at some point in the future. That is Paul’s point in this passage; our resurrected bodies will be different than our current bodies, just as a plant is different than the seed it came from, but we don’t know in what way they will be different. We simply need to trust God that He will do what is best out of His goodness and love for us.

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